Prevalence, characteristics, and management of childhood functional abdominal pain in general practice

Leo Spee, Yvonne Leeuwen, MA Benninga, Sita Bierma - Zeinstra, MY Berger

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Objective. To (i) describe the proportion of children presenting with abdominal pain diagnosed by the GP as functional abdominal pain (GPFAP); (ii) evaluate the association between patient and disease characteristics and GPFAP; (iii) describe diagnostic management by the GP in children presenting with abdominal pain, and (iv) evaluate whether children with GPFAP fulfill diagnostic criteria for functional abdominal pain (FAP) as described in current literature: chronic abdominal pain (CAP) and the Rome III criteria (PRC-III) for abdominal pain-related functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID). Design. Cross-sectional study. Setting. General practices in the Netherlands. Subjects. 305 children aged 4-17 years consulting for abdominal pain. Main outcome measures. GPFAP, CAP, FGIDs. Results. 89.2% of children were diagnosed with GPFAP. Headaches and bloating were positively associated with GPFAP whereas fever and >3 red flag symptoms were inversely associated. Additional diagnostic tests were performed in 26.8% of children. Less than 50% of all children with GPFAP fulfilled criteria for CAP and FGIDs; in 47.9% of patients the duration of symptoms at presentation was less than three months. Conclusions. In almost 90% of children included in this study the GP suspected no organic cause for the abdominal pain. GPs diagnose FAP in children without alarm symptoms and order diagnostic testing in one out of four children presenting with abdominal pain. No difference was found in GPs' management between children with a diagnosis of GPFAP and other diagnoses. Only about half of the children with a GP diagnosis of FAP fulfilled time-criteria of FAP as defined in the literature.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)197-202
Number of pages6
JournalScandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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